A dad reflects on the end of summer and the upcoming school year.

If you can imagine the black-and-white photograph, it’s powerful.  A line of children in Caracas, Venezuala all toting toy guns waiting to exchange them for non-violent toys.

The picture was published in the Globe and Mail recently.

The toy-guns-for-toys initiative is part of the Hugo Chavez government’s project to reduce violence in one of the most crime-ridden cities in Latin America.

A dad watches his toddler develop while on at the cottage.

How children's songs and books come to life at the cottage

We love a good party.  We also love a good book.  When it's a good book about a good party, well, everybody wins.

The Party has become an instant classic in our home.

A gift from my sister's in-laws, The Party is a written and illustrated by Barbara Reid.  It's about going to a summertime backyard party. 

From getting dressed in the prettiest party

The thing with toddlers is that parents get to see their little boys and girls enjoy new experiences that adults sometimes take for granted.  Going to the library is something our toddler loves.

Whether it’s browsing the shelves, signing out books or entering through the “out” turnstile, he has lots of fun at our local public library

Once a book makes it

When I was a kid, my family (which, at the time, included grandmothers, one grandfather, aunts, uncles, first cousins, second cousins, and any friends) would throw parties in the park.

We’d load up our coolers with cold drinks, food for the barbecue, deserts and salads.  We’d also pack snacks and at least one watermelon.  For fun and games, we’d bring soccer balls, footballs, baseballs and baseball gloves.  Paper plates doubled as goal posts or bases.

Within days of our newborn arriving, I asked an old grad school pal who is the mother of two daughters for some advice on life with two.

Here goes: 

1)     Breathe.
2)     Join a yoga class, ASAP.
3)     Take lots of photos.  Develop them.  Put them in albums.
4)     Enjoy!

Sage advice.
In the evenings after our toddler is asleep, I strap our

School's out.  While some kids are too young to take on summer jobs, working at the mall, fast food restaurant or grocery store may teach your teen some street smarts.
Author Carl Honoré and